The winter holidays are steeped with family and cultural traditions and New Year's is no different. Throughout the world, various foods eaten on New Year's Eve are thought to symbolize luck, prosperity and longevity in the coming year. But really, what is luckier than being in good health, and thus being able to really enjoy your longevity?
Even if your New Year's resolutions include improving your eating habits and dropping a few pounds, you can have a festive and delicious New Year's Eve, with a couple of dishes for prosperity thrown in for good measure.
In many cultures, beans are a symbol of prosperity, because they resemble coins, and because they swell when they cook, as one hopes one's wealth will expand. In the south of France, chickpeas are the legume of choice, and here in the U.S. black-eyed peas are always on the table in the Southern region, often in the form of Hopping John. The Italians are partial to eating lentils to usher in the New Year, often in combination with sausage or pork. Beans are an amazing source of meatless protein, and have tons of fiber and complex carbohydrates, and virtually no cholesterol or fat. And, they are inexpensive, so you're already on your way to increased prosperity!
Lentil Minestrone by Deborah Madison
Hopping John by Christopher Idone
Salad of Limas, Green Beans and Chickpeas with Lemon and Parsley by Crescent Dragonwagon
The Italians also think of pork as a symbol of abundance and good fortune (other European and South American cultures do as well). One saying goes that if you have pork on New Year's you'll live "high on the hog" in the coming year. Pork is available in many lean cuts, and can be a healthful alternative to beef for the main course of a New Year's dinner.
Marinated Pork Loin by Penelope Casas
Chunky Pork Shoulder Ragu by Michele Scicolone
Orange Glazed Pork by Maria Filice
Greens also represent wealth because of their color, as well as growth, and it's well established that greens such as kale, collard greens, spinach and cabbage are rich in nutrients and a key to eating for good health. Leafy dark greens are full of vitamins, calcium, iron and magnesium.
Wilted Greens by Frank Stitt
Farro and Cabbage Soup by Julia della Croce
Baked Spinach with Garlicky Bread Crumbs by Leslie Revin